This is the first study carried out on a large sample of the general adult population by Public Health France (SPF) on the subject. As the country faces the seventh wave of Covid-19Ihe organization published, on Thursday July 21, the first results of the “post-Covid affection” survey. The latter was carried out online between March 22 and April 8, 2022 from a representative sample of 27,537 people.
SPF warns, however, that the results of this study must be interpreted “with caution” : “These results should be taken with caution, as they are based on a panel of volunteers”insisted Friday morning Laure Carcaillon, epidemiologist at SPF. The reported proportion of people who have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 “is however comparable to that estimated by monitoring systems”. Franceinfo takes stock of what to remember from this study.
Fatigue, smell disorders… Symptoms of long Covid
The SPF study is based on the definition of long Covid established by the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN institution considers that the affection “Usually occurs within three months of infection, with symptoms and effects lasting for at least two months. No other diagnosis can explain the symptoms and effects of post-Covid-19 illness.”
As for the symptoms, the most frequently reported are listed on the website of the Haute Autorité de santé. Fatigue, neurological, cardio-thoracic, smell and taste, digestive and skin disorders, as well as pain, are mentioned. It is therefore logical that pulmonologists (16%), neurologists (11%) and infectiologists (5%) have become the specialists most consulted by people with long Covid, according to the conclusions of Public Health France.
More than 2 million adults affected in France
The study raises that 4% of the respondents of the panel of adult volunteers present the criteria for a long Covid. Among those interviewed having had a “probable or confirmed infection” at Covid-19 there is more than three months, the rate increases to 30%. The more time passes since the last infection, the lower this figure is: the prevalence increases to 20% eighteen months after infection.
Public Health France, which applied this estimate of the prevalence to the entire population, estimates that 2.06 million adult people were suffering from a long Covid at the beginning of April 2022, at the time of carrying out the study.
Women, working people and people who have been hospitalized are more affected
This study also provides information on the profile of people affected by long Covid. Among people who have been infected, the prevalence is higher among women (33.8%) and among working people (32.3%). Population active includes people with a job and the unemployed, according to the INSEE definition.
Finally, the prevalence is higher among people who said they had been hospitalized (38%). Public Health France has not identified age as a factor associated with developing this pathology.
The general practitioner, “first point of contact”
Faced with these lasting symptoms, patients first consult their general practitioner. 87% of people with a post-Covid-19 condition had consulted a general practitioner in the year preceding the survey, compared to 79% of participants infected with Sars-CoV-2 and 79% of uninfected participants. “This professional is therefore the first point of contact to ensure the diagnosis and the proper management of the post-Covid-19 condition. Good information from him on the pathology and the complementary management systems appears necessary. “, recommends SPF. It should be noted that nearly 11% of respondents with long Covid did not seek care during the 12 months preceding the study.
A second study of SPF, on a random sample in the general population, is planned “at the end of summer”. It should produce estimates “more robust” on the use of care, mental health and quality of life of people affected by a long Covid.